His 37-yard FG as time expired lifted Texas to a riveting 38-37 comeback win Saturday, surpassing a dream that Mangum has held since the day he set foot on campus. Mangum's dream, up to this point, had been to kick the game-winning field goal against Oklahoma on national television.
"I tell you what, winning the Rose Bowl is ten times better," he said. "I know we've had our trouble against OU but this is a great moment for the whole team."
It was also a moment of redemption for head coach Mack Brown. Thanks to Mangum's kick, Brown has finally won a 'big one' in the Granddaddy of Them All.
"He's taken a lot of heat," Mangum said, "but I'll tell you what: I wouldn't want to play for anyone else."
Mangum had a 50-yard FG to give Texas some breathing room in the 26-13 win over Texas A&M last November. Otherwise, the closest Mangum has come to this type of situation was back during his Mesquite High days. His kick was true from 43 yards out in a triple-overtime game against rival Garland High "but they scored a touchdown so it really didn't matter."
This time, it really, really did matter. In fact, Mangum's play arguably ranks as the most significant of the times when Texas literally won on the last play of the game. It surpasses Phil Dawson's game-winning FG against Virginia in 1995 and QB Bret Stafford's bullet to WR Tony Jones in the 1987 win at Arkansas just because this was the Rose Bowl, this was Texas' first BCS win, it was the largest attended event in program history, and it came against the co-Big Ten champ and the winningest team in Division-I college football.
Mangum is the type of player who doesn't want players and teammates in his space as he contemplates his attempt.
"When do you want me to kick it?" he asked Brown. "You tell me and I'll come over and kick it."
Although Michigan called consecutive timeouts to try and ice Mangum, Brown decided not to signal for time during the final, pulsating minute.
"We were at 37 seconds and we needed to huddle up," Brown said. "Dusty is really accurate inside the 38. We thought middle or left (runs). We've been playing long enough, let's just get this thing over with."
Brown also did not want to leave any time on the clock, lest Steve Breaston add to his school-record 223 yards in returns.
So, as 10 Longhorns huddled near the right hashmark at the Michigan 19-yard line, Mangum stood alone in front of 93,000+ fans, many of whom had chewed their fingernails to a nub. So, what goes on in a kicker's mind at a time such as this?
"I was singing a song," Mangum said.
For the record, the song was 'Just One' by Hoobastank.
He was also reflecting on his collegiate career and his teammates.
"I was thinking to myself, 'These guys are great. I'm going to go out there and kick this for those guys'."
While the rest of college football world is abuzz over QB Vince Young's MVP performance (four rushing TDs, one passing TD, 192 yards rushing, 180 passing), it was Mangum who enjoyed the victory ride on his teammates shoulder pads. The win ensured an 11-1 season for the Horns and what is sure to be their highest ranking in the final polls since finishing No.2/4 in 1981.
And in a town where dreams are either realized or extinguished indiscriminately, Mangum's dream-come-true forever etched his name and the 2004 Longhorns in the annals of Texas football history.